Russia is intent on putting men on the moon by 2030, according to strategy reports leaked Tuesday by the Russian business daily Kommersant, a revelation seen as comically unambitious for one of the world's most historically competitive, space-obsessed superpowers.
To be fair, Wired noted that plans also include a complex network of remotely-operated Mars space stations as well as probes bound for Jupiter and Venus.
Still, the effort seems awfully close to re-writing history even though, lest we forget, the first man to orbit the Earth was a Russian -- Yuri Gagarin, in 1961.
But Russia's national space agency Roskosmos just hasn't been able to pick up the game, with its director allegedly getting into an embarassing fight at work last week and the agency's recent efforts marked by, oh, satellite crashes, probes falling to Earth, according to the Telegraph, and one satellite landing in the wrong orbit.
The papers also reveal the first known hard deadlines set by Moscow's space agency since good old Soviet-era space race days.
Some (read: observer) nations might like to see a sequel, with Britain's The Daily Mail coyly noting, "we may have a new space race on our hands, as Barack Obama previously wanted to get Americans onto Mars by 2030."
A move like that could be all it takes to push Russian President Vladimir Putin, a judo maniac and competitor in the extreme, into action on the space front. After all, resentment still lingers over the Neil Armstrong affair.
The son of former Soviet premier who launched Sputnik-1, Sergei Khrushchev told Scientific American that the day the Apollo 11 news broke, there were some "small articles" about the breakthrough in Russian papers. "The Russian people had many problems in day-to-day life," Sergei explained, "they were not too concerned about the first man on the moon."
No longer is such apathy acceptable.
“Russia should not limit itself to the role of an international space ferryman," Putin insisted during events marking last year's 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s flight, according to Wired. "We need to increase our presence on the global space market.”
The 18-year Roskosmos plan is intended to address exactly that, with plans to build a new cosmodrome by 2018, launch a six-seater rocket by 2030, and send robotos to the Moon to collect samples by 2030, among other goals, reported NASA.